Have a Drink to History at Able Ebenezer Brewing Company
Drink your beer with a side of NH history
What do you get when four friends and aspiring entrepreneurs with a love for craft beer act on their dreams of starting their own business? Answer: The Able Ebenezer Brewing Company, a microbrewery that makes its home at Columbia Circle in Merrimack, creating its own versions of craft beers that are inspired by actual historical events, both from outside our windows and of those beyond.
"Craft beer is basically any kind of beer that has some sort of creative edge to it," says account director and co-founder Carl Soderberg. "It's using the basic ingredients that are in a mass-produced brand of beer and experimenting with different flavors."
These four ingredients (malt, yeast, water and hops), Soderberg says, are used in different variations to make the beers that will be brewed at Able Ebenezer unique.
A microbrewery is simply a small version of a brewery with far less initial hurdles than larger-scale operations. For instance, licensing fees are much smaller. This – and the resulting recent boom in small breweries here in the Granite State – is thanks to legislation passed not too long ago in New Hampshire. You can read more about how our state is now a fertile ground for nano and microbreweries here.
The brewery takes its name from Ebenezer Mudgett, a native of New Hampshire during the era when the land was known merely as one of the 13 colonies. In April 1772, Mudgett, along with other New Hampshire citizens, rallied to fight against the British in what became known as the Pine Tree Riot. The uproar was a result of the Pine Tree Law, which was passed in the early 1700s. The law stated that any white pine tree greater than 12 inches in diameter, even if it was on a colonist's property, belonged to the British government. Mudgett and his followers successfully drove the British out of Derryfield, which is now Manchester; they were captured, but later freed by New Hampshire courts.
Mudgett would go on to serve in the Revolutionary War, and his legacy will be reflected by the Able Ebenezer Brewing Company's mission once it takes off this spring.
"We all love military history and Revolutionary War history," Soderberg says, "and people love the origins of, say, a state like New Hampshire. We think that beer can be a catalyst of a good time and we always like to sit around, have a beer or two, and just tell stories. We are hoping that other people will share those loves with us as well."
Soderberg, as well as co-founders Zach Rand and Mike Frizzelle, are all military veterans. All three served in the US Army before pursuing educations in business administration and entrepreneurship. Jim Wilson, the fourth mastermind of Able Ebenezer who has extensive marketing experience of his own, was a childhood friend of Zach's whom the three recruited when the dreams of founding a brewery began to take shape.
Soderberg says that while the laws in New Hampshire are very "beer friendly," he notes that craft beer is a concept more commonly known of in western areas like Colorado and southern California. He says, however, that it is still an up-and-coming trend in New Hampshire and that he is excited along with the other guys to share with the state what they have to offer. A grand opening date is currently planned for April, with the announcement of the actual date likely being made as early as mid-March.
The flagship beer at Able Ebenezer is an Auburn American Red Ale, a ruby-colored craft beer made from specially brewed malts. There are currently five other recipes that have been featured, Soderberg says, in recent tasting events and promotions. Their names, like the brewery itself, are all inspired by historical events and personal metaphors. One of them is called "Burn the Ships," a smoky-flavored IPA that takes its name from Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés's expedition to Mexico in the early 1500s. Cortés had been in search of Aztec jewels as well as gold and silver, and he ended up cleverly telling his men to "burn the ships" so that they would have no exit strategy if things went wrong. This tactic should have backfired on him, but ultimately ended up motivating him and his men to fight for victory or die trying. The rest is history: Cortés, for better or worse (probably very much for the latter from the point of view of the native inhabitants), became the first in several hundred years to conquer and colonize Mexico.
Today, the act of "burning the ships" can be viewed as a means for motivation and commitment, and these are values that Soderberg says are metaphors for the success of the Able Ebenezer Brewery. "Only one of us is actually from New Hampshire," he says, "so it was a big step for the rest of us to 'burn our ships' to come here and attempt to start a business."
Soderberg says that with the much larger Anheuser-Busch brewery nearby, also in Merrimack, he knows that there are already people today who come to New Hampshire for good beer. So, perhaps the Able Ebenezer Brewing Company will feel right at home in the community.